Frequently Asked Questions
We understand where you’re coming from! Click on one of the items below to view answers to some possible questions you might have.
Debt Collection Lawsuit Defense
Yes, definitely. Debt collectors file collection lawsuits and count on people ignoring a case (about 90%) or trying to settle it themselves (about 8%). 2% of people hire an attorney but often settle. An experienced attorney focused on litigating debt collection lawsuits can usually get the case dismissed.
With a Default Judgment a debt collector or creditor can freeze your bank accounts and take money out, garnish your wages, and put a lien on any property you have. In Illinois they can also charge 9% annual interest until the full amount is paid. Debt collectors count on a Default Judgment since 90% of people don’t show up in court and have a Default Judgment entered against them.
A Default Judgment will probably be entered against you. A Default Judgment means the case is over and the company suing you wins.
In Illinois, collection lawsuit trials are either in front of a judge (bench trial), which is the default, or with a jury of your peers. We file our Appearances with Jury Demands so that if a case goes to trial the jury determines the verdict.
An Appearance is a document you file with the court to let it know you are going to participate in the lawsuit. You or your attorney must file an Appearance within 30 days of you being served with the lawsuit. The deadline is known as the Appearance Date or Return Date. You have an option of making a Jury Demand which we almost always recommend doing.
No. This is probably the most common misunderstanding about a lawsuit. The Appearance Date or Return Date is a deadline to file an Appearance and Jury Demand. It is not a court date and you don’t have to go to court.
If it’s not the company that lent you the money, like a credit card company, they’re probably a debt buyer. A debt buyer is a company that buys defaulted debts then tries to collect or sue for the full amount.
I can’t tell you yes or no but I can give you some information on what could happen. They’ll probably have you sign something you don’t understand, likely an Agreed Judgment Order or similar, where you admit your guilty. They’ll file it with the court. Now you have a judgment against you. They won’t give you anything in writing, they won’t give you an accounting of your payments. Remember, they’re working in their best interest, not yours. You have to be willing to trust the lawyers suing you.
People get scared, figure they can’t win, don’t want to deal with court, and settle. They do this before finding out what their options are, which is mainly that cases filed by debt collectors can be won without paying them anything.
Probably not. If the debt buyer can’t serve you personally through the sheriff or process server, they can ask the judge if they can serve you by Certified Mail.
If you hire us we take over and take care of everything. You do not have to go to court. If you don’t hire an attorney to represent you, yes you do have to go to court on your own.
Yes. Technically a debt still exists if the case was dismissed “without prejudice” which is almost always the case. But this has never happened to any of our clients whose case we defended.
Yes. Illinois has what’s known as a “one refiling rule” which allows a debt buyer to file a second case if they voluntarily dismissed the first case.
Not necessarily, a Default Judgment is not automatic. The debt buyer suing you first has to ask the judge to enter a Default Judgment against you.
In Illinois they can:
1. Freeze bank accounts and pull money out
2. Order your employer to garnish your wages
3. Put a lien on property
4. Charge 9% annual interest
This can be done for up to 27 years or until the judgment amount and interest is paid off.
Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA)
Under the FDCPA statute you can get up to $1,000 in damages. If there are what’s called “actual damages” you can recover those also. Actual damages could be out of pocket costs and emotional distress damages, among other things.
We can also force debt collectors to follow the rules, such as correct false reporting on your credit reports.
The FDCPA has what’s called a “fee shifting” provision. It’s what allows the little guy to get into court and sue the big companies and win. In a fee shifting FDCPA case if you win the defendant has to pay your attorneys’ fees and costs.
Debt collectors, debt buyers (companies that buy defaulted debt for pennies on the dollar then try to collect), and even law firms that try to collect or sue people for defaulted debts can all be sued under the FDCPA.
Business debts, taxes, speeding and parking tickets, municipal fines such as building or code violations and child support
Consumer debt is covered which is defined as debt for personal, family or household purposes. This mostly consists of personal debts such as credit card debt, personal loans, auto loans and in some cases mortgages.
The FDCPA regulates what debt collectors can and can’t do. It was created to protect people from the shady, unfair and illegal tactics debt collectors use to collect debts from people.
Under the FDCPA statute you can get up to $1,000 in damages. If there are what’s called “actual damages” you may be able to recover those also. Actual damages could be out of pocket costs and emotional distress damages, among other things.
We’ve also been able to have the debt cancelled and the accounts on credit reports deleted.